Sharon Love Cook brings a new dimension to this blog since she isn't content just to write the books. She wants to illustrate them, too! And, as you will see from these covers, she is very talented in both writing and illustrating her works! Welcome, Sharon! (You gotta Love somebody with that name, eh?)
When Sharon asked me to be a guest blogger, I was very pleased. At the same time, I was afraid I’d already run out of things to say about my Granite Cove Mystery series. I’d mentioned elsewhere how I’d named my setting, the “sleepy fishing village” of Granite Cove. The fictional town is based on my home town, Gloucester, Mass., America’s oldest working seaport. In reality there’s nothing “sleepy” about Gloucester; a glance at the local newspaper’s police notes will confirm that.
I’d also described the characters in Granite Cove and how they came to be. They are a hodgepodge of attributes borrowed from people real and imagined, but mostly real. On my opening page where I post a disclaimer, I state: “All characters in the book are fictional and products of the author’s imagination with the exception of Chester, the author’s 95 pound black Lab.” Chester doesn’t care what I write about him.
On other blogs I’ve related how I came to write this series--and how I started a writing career. At age seventeen I was hired by the Cape Ann Summer Sun, a seasonal supplement to the Gloucester Daily Times. I was a correspondent, covering the beach colony where I lived. I also provided a cartoon each week, the first time my cartoons appeared in print. Not much happened during those summers in the late ‘50s to early ‘60s. My copy tended to be about the Red Cross swim classes, the restoration of the wooden steps leading to the beach and the jellyfish invasions. On one occasion a teenage resident received a visit from her Japanese pen pal. This blew the jellyfish right off the page.
Because I didn’t want to cover the same old territory, I thought it’d be interesting if I wrote about my book covers. An art school grad, I had the pleasure of illustrating them. When A Nose for Hanky Panky was being published by Mainly Murder Press, the editor contacted me. She told me to get in touch with the designer if I had suggestions regarding my cover. I promptly contacted the designer and said I envisioned the following on my cover:
1.) a chi-chi office at night; a nice wooden desk, diplomas on the wall.
2.) a shapely pair of legs in high heels jutting out from behind the desk.
3.) an empty wine glass on the floor, spilled wine spreading dark as blood.
4.) a wheeled caddy holding bottles of liquor.
5.) An open window, curtains billowing. In the distance, a moonlit beach; looking in the window: a pig.
I only got that far when the designer told me to stop. “Can you sketch it out?” she asked. I said I’d try. I sat and drew exactly what I wanted. The drawing came out so well I got out my paints. When I was through I liked the finished product. I asked the editor if she would accept it. After a while she got back to me, saying my cover had been approved.
For my second Granite Cove Mystery, A Deadly Christmas Carol, I did the cover as well. I added another shapely pair of legs. As they were stretched out in the snow, these legs wore boots. (The legs are not gratuitous; they actually play a role in the books.)
Now I’m working on book #3: Laugh ‘til You Die. As always, I plan to illustrate the cover. There will be a pair of legs jutting out from under a chest of drawers. The legs, in fuzzy slippers, won’t be shapely. They belong to an elderly woman who happened to take a nap in the wrong bed at a poorly-run nursing home. Although I don’t know who the murderer is in my current book, I know how the cover will look.
I remember being in the fifth grade when our teacher asked the class to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wrote: “to write and illustrate a novel.” My teacher snickered. “Authors don’t illustrate books,” she said. I wish that teacher was alive today. I’d send her copies.